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"Herr Noamtosk."

"Herr Direktor."

Without a further word, von Erbach pushed the sheet of clippings across the desk. In his mind he wanted to call them newspaper, but most were printed on the thin sheets of recycled plastic that had become the de facto writing material onboard what some were laughably calling the United Earth Fleet.

The Sidereal Messenger

CID Reps Refuse Comment On 'Soylent Red'

(CIDF People's Will) In a press conference to discuss the continued rollout of the increasingly popular Type 3 Synthetic Ration, representatives from the Chinese Central Investigation Department's Hydro-Agricultural Division refused to comment on the common nickname for the food product, instead restating that the Synthetic Ration is composed entirely of proteins derived from rice and other hydroponically-grown crops.

Controversy has erupted following the discovery of untraceable chemical additives in up to 93% of all…

The Wandering Star

'A Spectacular Failure'
The GOCS Yeager Tragedy

(UNOC Central Command, Athena One) In the chaotic days of the early Departure the one constant in many people's lives was the daily update from the doomed Global Occult Coalition starship Yeager and its heroic crew who gave their lives to get civilian contractors to safety even as their experimental ship collapsed around them. Now, for the first time, this five-part series will feature…

The Sidereal Messenger

Insider: 'UNOC Trials Humanoid Combat Vehicle'

(UNOC Central Command, Athena One) Increasing sightings of humanoid vehicles being tested around the UNOC Lunar Defense Facility docking bay have lead many to speculate that the UN is investing in a secret program of advanced rearmament.

"It looked to be about three stories tall, sort of hunchbacked. I've never seen a spacecraft move like that. It just sort of danced…

The Wandering Star

Editorial: Aliens Walk Among Us… Right?

I think in the years since the Departure what's amazed me most isn't what people are willing to believe, but what they're willing to disbelieve. We still, to this day, don't know what happened to the Earth. And neither the UNOC nor the GRU nor even the Foundation are willing to spill the beans about what or who was involved. Why then, do some sticks in the mud still insist that what happened was a natural phenomenon? The evidence clearly…

The Sidereal Messenger

Genius or Monster?
Axel von Erbach: the Man who Lifted the Moonbase

(FSF L'Engle) Of all the mysterious figures in Fleet society, few are more controversial (and more written about) than Axel von Erbach. In studying the man behind the myth, it is nearly impossible to avoid the extremes; for every accusation of war crimes and Nazism there is a hagiographic portrayal of a selfless Renaissance man putting Humanity on a new path. Interviews are, of course, impossible, and the few facts we know are tenuous…

The Wandering Star

SICP Delays Product Release
Questions Mounting over Viability of Lasers

(UEFS Stride Boldly) In an announcement that had investors feeling a certain haunting familiarity, Subach-Innes Consumer Products today announced that they would be delaying the general release of their LCOL series of combat lasers despite high demand for their use as asteroid defense equipment. In a prepared statement, SICP president…

"These have all been printed in the past six days. Do you know what happened in the past six days?"

"We got some excellent filming done, that's for certain. And you had a little journalistic tumor sprout up in your midst. Nothing out of the ordinary."

"Are you familiar with the Serpent's Hand, Noamtosk?"

"Ah, yes, 'magic.' I mean it's all sufficiently advanced technology cleverly disguised, is it not. But what does that matter? Should I be worried about wizards pouring out of the woodwork? A genre shift, perhaps? Though fantasy does get stale sometimes. But what does this have to do with-"

"During the…", von Erbach hesitated. 'Purges' was the first word that came to mind, but he set it aside.

"During the police actions of the first few months we made sure all journalistic sources were firmly under the control of reputable authorities, ourselves included. You've seen the Foundation Daily and the United Voice, of course."

"Get to the point, von Erbach. You so seldom make for good soundbites."

"Six days ago Atmospheric Control detected a minute increase in oxygen intake and moisture levels, consistent with at least ten more people entering the Athena One environment. Ten people more than accounted for with regular personnel movements among the Fleet. Six days ago someone started publishing two underground newspapers including material from sources who should not exist."

"So your security isn't perfect. What's the big-"

"Six days ago our anti-anomalous activity detection equipment registered signatures consistent with Serpent's Hand thaumaturgy. And all the Showmen machinery you provided showed nothing."

Noamtosk went stock-still save for the constant working of its teeth.

"But- but that's not possible. There's absolutely no reason that- that-"

"You want a soundbite? Here's a soundbite for you: Your little experiment is compromised. Someone's found a Way on and off the ship. Someone's found a Way home."

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